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5 Dec 1995 : Column WA71

Written Answers

Tuesday, 5th December 1995.

Wei Jungsheng

Lord Avebury asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they have received any information from the Chinese authorities about the specific acts said to have been committed by Wei Jungsheng in his alleged attempt to overthrow the Government of China and whether the European Union diplomatic missions in Beijing will jointly appoint a senior official from amongst their staff to monitor the case, to attend, if possible, any court proceedings, and to report back periodically on the case, for publication in every country of the European Union.

Lord Chesham: The arrest of Wei Jungsheng is a matter of deep concern. We and our European Union partners are considering what further action to take, and will continue to monitor the situation closely.

Former Yugoslavia Peace Implementation Force: US Ground Forces

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Chairman of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff has, as reported, expressed the view that "European forces" are capable of performing the mission of ground forces in former Yugoslavia, and whether they concur with this view.

Lord Chesham: The American position has been set out by President Clinton, who has stated publicly that the United States should contribute about one third of the proposed military implementation force (IFOR). The United Kingdom welcomes this. We have made clear that the participation of US ground troops in IFOR is a prerequisite for our participation.

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether President Clinton has committed the United States to sending ground troops to former Yugoslavia, and if so when did he do so; under what conditions are they to go; what is the mission to which they are committed; and what are its time limits.

Lord Chesham: President Clinton said on 21 November when announcing the initialling of the Bosnia Peace Agreement in Dayton, Ohio, that the United States would be expected to contribute about one-third of the military implementation force (IFOR). The IFOR will be UN-authorised, NATO-led, and will operate with the strategic consent of the parties. President Clinton has indicated that he will request US Congressional support before main deployment.

IFOR's principal tasks will be to establish zones of separation and ensure withdrawal of forces, to maintain the necessary freedom of movement and to create secure

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conditions for the activities of other bodies associated with the peace agreement. IFOR deployment is planned to end within twelve months.

Former Yugoslavia: US Measures to Achieve Balance of Forces

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the United States intends to arm and train the Bosnian armed forces to secure "a balance" among the forces in the area, and whether the United States has now informed them of the extent to which they and other parties with their agreement or collaboration have provided intelligence, equipment, training or other assistance to:

    (a) the Bosnian government and its forces; and

    (b) the Croatian government and its forces in the last three years.

Lord Chesham: In a letter to Congress dated 13 November, President Clinton wrote that to the extent that arms control measures do not suffice to provide stability, the United States is prepared to help equip and train the Bosnian-Croat Federation to ensure effective self-defence.

The US Government have not briefed us in detail on the issues addressed in the second part of the question.

Non-Proliferation Treaty: Joint Declaration

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether the Joint Declaration in connection with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), in which they and the French, Russian and United States governments welcomed the cessation of the nuclear arms race and reaffirmed their commitment to Article 6 of the NPT, indicates that they consider themselves bound to "pursue negotiations in good faith .... on a treaty on general and comprehensive disarmament under strict and effective international control", and if this Joint Declaration indicates a new collaborative approach on their part to this neglected element of Article 6.

Lord Chesham: The terms of the declaration dated 6 April 1995 by France, the Russian Federation, the United States of America and the United Kingdom are clear: the four countries concerned expressed their joint determination to continue to implement fully all the provisions of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, including those in Article VI.

HIV/AIDS Prevention in Southern Africa: Funding

Lord Kennet asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How much they have spent in the last two years in southern Africa on the prevention of sexually transmitted infections.

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Lord Chesham: We spent £1.2 million in 1993/94 and £3.9 million in 1994/95 through the bilateral aid programme on projects in southern Africa whose objectives include the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted infections.

In addition, we have provided £6.1 million in 1993/94 and £3.9 million in 1994/95 to the World Health Organisation Global Programme on AIDS, a proportion of which was used on HIV/AIDS prevention activities in southern Africa.

EU Committee of the Regions

Lord Tope asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How they propose to fill vacancies which occur amongst the United Kingdom membership of the European Union Committee of the Regions.

Lord Chesham: Article 198a of the Treaty of European Union states that members of the Committee are appointed by "the Council, acting unanimously on proposals from respective Member States". In this country, proposals are made by my right honourable Friend, the Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs on the recommendation of my right honourable Friends the Secretaries of State for Environment, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland in consultation with local authority associations.

Lord Tope asked Her Majesty's Government:

    Whether they will use the opportunity created by any vacancies arising among the United Kingdom membership of the European Union Committee of the Regions to correct the present political imbalance in that membership.

Lord Chesham: The political balance of the UK membership of the Committee of the Regions reflects that of local government in 1993, when the committee was convened. The political balance will be maintained for the four-year term of the committee. Any vacancies which arise during this period will be filled by a representative of the same political group as the former member.

Northern Ireland: Terrorist Activity since the Cease-Fire

Lord Hylton asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many (a) murders (b) threats leading to expulsion (c) punishment beatings (d) cases of financial extortion (e) acts of arson have been recorded in Northern Ireland since the 1994 cease-fires; whether the figures are better or worse than those for comparable periods before the cease-fires; and what measures they are taking to prevent such crimes.

Baroness Miller of Hendon: In the 14 months since the PIRA ceasefire, there have been 27 murders in

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Northern Ireland compared with 126 murders in the 14 months prior to the PIRA ceasefire.

Over the same period, there have been 223 casualties of so-called punishment assaults, 75 of which have been attributed to loyalist groups, 148 to republican groups. This compares with 45 casualties as a result of 'punishment' assaults in the 14 months before the PIRA ceasefire, 37 of which were attributed to loyalist groups, 8 to republican groups. However, in addition there were 82 'punishment' shootings attributed to loyalist groups (and 13 between 1 September 1994 and 13 October 1994) and 63 shootings attributed to republican groups.

Over the same period since the PIRA ceasefire, there have been 137 arson attacks on Orange Order property, church and chapel property, GAA property and schools. This compares with 65 similar types of attack in the 14 months before the PIRA ceasefire.

Figures relating to (b) threats leading to expulsion and (d) cases of financial extortion are not held centrally and to obtain them would incur disproportionate cost.

The RUC is actively pursuing all intelligence and evidence available to bring to justice those who are perpetrating these crimes. The public are asked to pass on information to the police either directly or indirectly, or via the Confidential Telephone.

In cases of financial extortion, the police are at hand to advise victims and potential victims on action they should take; it would not, however, be prudent to disclose fully the measures proposed.

The public are advised at national and local level in relation to the measures that can be taken in relation to their protection and safety.

Income Support

Earl Russell asked Her Majesty's Government:

    How many people are in receipt of income support; what percentage of the population over 18 this represents; and how many of the recipients are (a) of pensionable age, (b) in receipt of a disability premium and (c) registered unemployed.

The Minister of State, Department of Social Security (Lord Mackay of Ardbrecknish): On the basis of the Income Support Quarterly Enquiry November 1994, the latest available data, it is estimated that there are 5,700,000 recipients of income support, of whom 1,590,000 are of pensionable age, 687,000 receive the Disability Premium and 1,759,000 are registered as unemployed.

The total number in receipt of income support, which may include some persons aged 16 or 17, represents, on the basis of the 1994 mid-term estimate by the Office of Population, Censuses and Surveys, 13.2 per cent. of the total population aged 18 and over.

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